Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which significantly amends Ontario labour and employment law, has received Royal Assent and is now law. Earlier in 2017, the Ontario government issued its response to a Final Report two Special Advisors drafted as part of their Changing Workplaces Review. This Final Report included 173 recommendations for amendments to Ontario employment and labour laws.
The report, part of a research study conducted in partnership with the University of Guelph, aims to provide insights into the career aspirations, work values and career priorities of millennials and generation Z, with an emphasis on how employers can better attract, retain and engage these younger generations.
Bill 148 passes second reading
We first reported on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 in our Employment Update in June 2017. Since that time, the Bill has passed second reading and is currently back before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. For the most part, the significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) contemplated by the previous version of Bill 148 remain intact. These include:
Final details of the OHIP+ program are still coming in dribs and drabs.
One area where we may see issues is for those under 25 years old, currently on medication that is on the Ontario EAP formulary. In the past, these medications were paid for by the benefit plan, but going forward the province will pay the cost once an application has been made to, and approved by, the provincial program.
Exceptional Access Program and OHIP+ – plan member action required
The province is recommending that for those individuals taking a drug on an ongoing basis, they should be encouraged to talk to their doctor to see if the drug is part of the government’s EAP. If it is they should ask their doctor to submit an EAP request form now to avoid interruption of coverage on Jan 1.
Due to the provinces change in process, failing to make this application could result in the benefit plan ceasing to pay for these often expensive drugs.
Communication about OHIP+ will continue in the coming months.
Bill 148 ($15 minimum wage and other labour/employment standards reforms) was referred again to the Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. This committee will conduct public hearings next week in the Main Legislative Building at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
The tight deadlines for these hearings were finalized and made public only yesterday afternoon, but it’s not too late to make sure your voice is heard in person, or in writing.
To request to appear for a five-minute presentation before the committee on Thursday, November 2 (9:00-10:15 a.m. and 2:30-6:00 p.m.), contact the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-325-3506 by no later than Monday, October 30 at 5 p.m.
(Please note: Just like the first round of hearings, if the number of requests to appear exceeds the number of spots available, a short list will be created by MPPs on the committee.)
Written submissions will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, November 3.
Please email written submissions to email@example.com.
This is the final opportunity to help influence the outcome of Bill 148. Your individual business story could make a difference!